Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bite The Hand That Feeds

Rarely discussed, the concerning relationship between the media and corporate Canada. Of course, outlets generally scoff at any intimation of bias. But, common sense dictates a conflict of interest when your very existence is partially predicated on monetary infusions from sources you are also "covering".  

A certain irony that the PUBLIC broadcaster breaks this story about Enbridge overtly pressuring Postmedia to pull a parody or risk losing advertising dollars. Factor in an industry in trouble to stay afloat and the leverage becomes even more acute.  One has to wonder if this story see the light of day without a entity only partially beholden to the same interests, perhaps another case for the importance of the CBC configuration.

It is fair to question coverage of certain issues, when confronted with an advertising lifeline that is essentially a lobby group.  Case in point, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers advertising that is currently bombarding media outlets.  I recently watched a political show discussing changes to environmental regulations over several segments, each of which came with a break that included what I consider one sided propaganda ads from CAPP.  Legal, yes of course.  Acceptable in a free society, obviously.  That said, it is a bit odd to have discussion of an issue- under the guise of assumed neutrality- only to see the segments dominated by biased advertising, at the core, these ads paying for the show.   One, the segments are being manipulated with these ads, whatever "unbiased" presentation during the show is offset by these ads.  As well, if people are aware of who pays the bills, just how far would said entity go in "uncovering".  In the real world, we are confronted with these conflicts all the time, to say no influence exists is to take leave of your senses.  Turn this argument around, imagine the cries from the right wing if David Suzuki ran ads after each Peter Kent television appearance.  Exactly. 

I worry that vested interests are flexing their muscle, which is their right, they are free to advertise where they choose.  However, this reality- particular with increasingly SCARCE revenue sources- does raise questions about content and direction.  I believe this Enbridge example is a terrific confirmation of the need for a public broadcaster, even if it to relies partially on advertising.  Journalism does a fantastic job uncovering conflicts of interests, even perceived or uneasy relationships.   The question becomes, where is the check on the checkers and the powerful influences that bankroll them?  Not a trivial matter, and one that is rarely discussed, which perhaps speaks to part of the problem.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Polls Provide Cautionary Tales

The latest rash of polling consistently shows support for the Harper Conservatives on the wane, a very strong NDP alternative. Some polls have the NDP in the lead, others like Abacus show a dead heat.  These are heady days for the NDP, no question about it.  But, underneath some of the polling, perhaps a cautionary tale, within that ample intellectual room for the "co-operation" argument.

There exists a disconnect between rising disapproval in all things Harper government and support numbers.  For the purposes of trends, Abacus begins with a baseline of August 2011.  Here we see a 10% erosion in "right direction" numbers for the country.  We also see a very concerning 12% rise in disapproval of the Harper government (last August 43% approval/37% disapproval, now 34% approval, 49% disapproval).  On the economy, we see a 9% drop in the federal government's handling.   Harper's personal numbers see a 1% gap in approval/disapproval last August rise to 14% today, another troubling trend line.

Taken in totality, the numbers are very, very concerning for this government, no doubt about it.  However, when we review the party support numbers, we see a more muted picture, which deserves attention.  Last August, Abacus had it 38% for the Conservatives, 32% for the NDP and 19% for the Liberals.  Today, we see 35% each for the Conservatives and NDP, 20% for the Liberals.  In other words, despite abysmal trends for the government, Harper, the Conservatives have only dropped 3%, not even outside the polls margin of error.  In addition, the NDP up 3%, Liberals static, fairly minor moves when juxtaposed against the government performance/Harper numbers.   I think this an imperative point for those giddy with dreams of conquest, the questions are a bit more complicated moving forward.

The opposition are not fully maximizing the disquiet with this government.  Approvals are now SO bad for the Conservatives that we see competition, outright leads, but this reality still hasn't captured the underlying unease, the full price isn't being paid.  That the government can still remain tied nationally, despite abysmal numbers, further argument for proponents of co-operation, those that want some agreement that makes "opposition" succinct and efficient.   Despite these worrying trends for Harper, we still have a situation where a slight rebound, "less bad" if you will, translates to another mandate, almost absurd on one level.

For those of us who wish the Conservatives no good fortune, these polls are clearly encouraging.  However, beyond the headlines and pom poms, there still exists a structural disconnect within the polling that leaves some room for government optimism.  To my mind, a shrewd alternative looks for ways to SNUFF out any escape routes. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Americans Move Towards Supply Management?

Plenty of upheaval lately over supply management, a pet peeve of the corporate media, lobbyists and apparently some Liberals, although the latest "big name" voice is about as liberal as Harper is a communist these days(do the math). As well, if your big idea of a bold new vision for the Liberal Party is arguing against a stable rural economy, perhaps leadership isn't your calling (do the math). Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions, however the sudden emphasis with all the problems in this country is overblown and bordering on hyperbolic.

Those that argue against supply management live in a never never land, wherein they actually believe prices would be the equivalent of other jurisdictions, despite the fact commodities and goods are ALWAYS higher in Canada, even those operating in the beloved free market (which doesn't exist btw). I just read a G and M piece today arguing supply management costs consumers 3 billion a year, 3 billion! Lazy pieces of this sort never compare price differences with other commodities outside of the dreaded system, they simply falsely posit erroneous bottom line numbers to alarm and rile. As well, strangely, no one every incorporates the additional costs of government inspection, on farm food safety, programs many farmers pay for THEMSELVES under the current system.  What of that "cost" to consumers, is that not counterbalanced or is it just easier to use simplistic math to further a bastardized case?

Perhaps the cost of these commodities would go down under a new system, but the evidence in other jurisdictions is contradictory, you can make the case either way.  As well, a certain naivety is required to not believe the big processors wouldn't gobble up any additional margins, to think "savings" are passed directly on the consumer requires leave of common sense.  No, what is most likely, very marginal savings to the consumer, the farmer suffers and any benefit goes to corporations.

There is quite a interesting debate going on down south.  A quick review of the dairy reforms proposed by US Senator Gillibrand HERE is a good review for anyone who actually believes the true free market exists.  Revisiting the BAILOUT programs to deal with volatile prices, as well as newer reforms that would PEG THE PRICE and MANIPULATE the supply of milk- the horror!  Yesterday, a BIPARTISAN amendment passed the US Senate, which means the Americans will look at these reforms, the move towards supply management alive and well in free market America. What we see with the American example, a commodity wherein farmers require routine bailouts and protectionism to keep the industry afloat. The latest reforms, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are a byproduct of the realization that market forces are destroying the family farm.

With that backdrop, fascinating that certain elements in Canada seem determined to adopt this failing model. To be fair, the "model" was always an illusion, the Americans subsidize their commodities, as do most jurisdictions, in a myriad of ways, any talk of a true free market always a laughable proposition. Anyways, it is noteworthy that the Americans are seeking to adopt price control and supply manipulation just as the heat is on Canada to abandon these "outdated" marketing boards.

Go compare the price of a car in Canada and the United States. Our very own Senate is CURRENTLY looking at the perplexing reality, that being, EVERYTHING in Canada is more expensive, even things outside of the dreaded supply management system. Remember this reality when false numbers are presented, 3 billion my ASS, run the numbers for other goods, then get back to us with your enlightened math corporate media.

I support farmers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Utterly Stunning

Using the backdrop- the maelstorm of controversy, the Auditor General report that highlighted outright deception- it is utterly stunning that this government can STILL operate within a frame of obstruction and secrecy on this file, STUNNING:
Opposition MPs were frustrated at the government’s attempt to end the hearings after only seven hours of witness testimony, which resulted in a stalemate as National Defence deputy minister Robert Fonberg contradicted the auditor general over facts in his report. They were angrier still after Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose (Sherwood Park, Alta.) confirmed an independent review of F-35 cost differences between National Defence and Mr. Ferguson’s report will be denied access to key cost estimates from the U.S.

Although outside experts to be hired by the Treasury Board secretariat will have access to the latest National Defence cost estimates, they will not be able to see the data on which the estimates are based—cost assumptions and forecasts that were provided to National Defence in May by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Office in Washington, Va
Shutting down the hearings prematurely, denying Parliament cost estimates, after all the concerns expressed, that the government can still obstruct in this fashion may be the most obscene thing we've seen during their tenure.  Simply unreal, our system is beyond broken and our government more represents a military junta than any manifestation of a modern democracy.  What more can you say...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Conservatives Passed Best Before Date?

The latest spate of polls show a few things, not the least of which is erosion in Conservative numbers, as well as growing disapproval for Harper. Emphasis is on the robust NDP numbers, as predicted this newfound popularity is more than just a traditional post convention bounce, it's a realignment in Canadian politics. Leger out with a Quebec poll, showing the NDP at a staggering 52%, a testament to an emerging solid base for Mulcair. Other polls show the NDP at dizzying heights ahead or tied with the Conservatives. Electorally, the NDP "coalition" looks equally stout, Quebec, British Columbia and very competitive in Ontario and Atlantic Canada is a potential winning combination.  With we Liberals now in flux, I won't be surprised to see numbers remain within this range moving forward.

To my mind, the real "story" within these numbers, this government is very much taking a hit for their performance of late.  The Conservatives will always have a rock solid base, 30% seems to be bottom, but they are alienating marginal voters, and this is perhaps more important in a regional, electoral sense.  Important to note here, 30% in your back pocket, no matter your transgressions, will forever give the Conservatives a strong chance moving forward, only point is a question of vulnerability. 

I contend this government may have passed their best before date.  I also believe they have made a massive strategic error holding to their stubborn budget agenda, galvanizing their opposition in a new and potent configuration.  Once people see you as "arrogant", "unyielding", "anti-democratic", these are not pleasant characterizations and they come with a cost.   I have yet to see a time during their governance wherein so many former Progressive Conservatives are openly criticizing, where the edges of their "tent" are taking in water.    The Harper Conservatives brand is becoming tarnished, their dismissive belief that is is ONLY about the economy is being challenged.  To be fair, the Conservatives have reached this place based on the thesis, but that is not the only consideration.

When the Conservatives had a minority, they were able to reduce any outrageous manifestation as simply a function of the seat allocation realities.  Minorities breed hyper partisanship, strong arm tactics to survive, everyone is continually in confrontation mode, it's simply the nature of the system.  However, Canadians are now faced with the reality that absolutely nothing has changed with a majority, nobody has "mellowed", perhaps the attacks on democracy have worsened and the arrogance at the fore.  This government very much resembles a gang that has held power for to long, so cozy they don't care a lick about Parliamentary process, the ideals of our system, they act and resemble a totalitarian regime dealing with nuances.  A dangerous concoction which is being to manifest as people's opinions turn on the government, good management not the sole consideration.

We have seen these Conservatives rebound many times, but for some reason this instance seems slightly different, both in terms of the growing resolve of opposition as well as historical context on the life of governments.  Harper's Conservatives are beginning to resemble all the things people used to hate about the former "natural governing" party,  they look FAR to comfortable in power and this is where trouble evolves.  We have scandals, we have ethical lapses, we have a tone which is elitist and detached, we have tired faces and arguments, we have baggage, we have alternatives, we have an emerging and growing coalition of forces who wish them no good fortune, we have many signs that all is not rosy in Conservative land.

The mothership is vulnerable.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who Will Be The "Unite The Left" Candidate?

You can really sense a buzz within certain quarters as people digest the potentialities within the Liberal leadership race. Our media class seems intrigued, as evidenced again yesterday within the context of the Rae announcement. The idea of "supporters", a wider primary concept, allows for many scenarios beyond the traditional narrow partisan process. Of course, any anticipation also comes with the capacity for complete let down, should this race not catch fire, but the nuts and bolts are in place for opportunity.

Within any discussion about the leadership, a conversation of who will be the unity candidate, who will be the person to champion "co-operation", a point made again yesterday by columnist Tim Harper. One only has to look at the last NDP race, wherein Cullen came out of nowhere largely because of his controversial stand on co-operation to realize the issue sits in the wings waiting for an advocate. With a system that allows a wider input in the ultimate choice, the capacity exists for a raucous debate on this score.

A largely ignored story on the CBC The National a couple nights ago highlighted an emerging "unite the left" grassoots sentiment spontaneously manifesting itself, without the guidance of head office.

Minor in scope at this point, but also seeds that people need to pay close attention to because the concepts have resonance. This is the audience for the Liberal candidate who makes co-operation a campaign center piece. Interestingly, Trudeau has mused on this score in very clear terms, although I question whether those sentiments would manifest should he choose to run. Whatever, the larger illumination would be watching blue Liberals gush over Trudeau when policy wise he about as left as they come in the "big tent". Certain absurdities will be revealed, as they already are presently, but that is more a psychology Doctorate thesis at this point.

Again, I sense a unique interest in this Liberal race, quite out of proportion given our current lowly status. This reality provides the Liberals a terrific opportunity to re-engage with the Canadian public, present compelling policy and debates, breakout of the downward spiral.   The great debate within this race may very well turn out to be the co-operation angle.  Cullen was handicapped by a narrow audience- as well as a rally around the flag mentality from opponents- a situation the Liberal race could evolve outside of, with the right advocate.  One thing is clear, there are rumbling out there in the hinterland, an audience waiting for further articulation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rae Out

Bob Rae is out for the Liberal leadership, making the announcement at a very fascinating press conference.  I think the rationale for not running is a complicated equation.  But, the top line conclusion will congratulate Rae for a classy exit, which demonstrated all the attributes that made him compelling in the first place.

My no "bullshit" take on Rae's decision is that he came to this place just recently, fully intending to run, but reacting to recent developments.  I believe the prospects of Trudeau jumping into the race- a reality I now think almost certain- gave additional pause.  Spend a few moments digesting the generational divide, the obvious optics, as well as the very real potential of being completely over run and a man of wisdom can foresee the choppy seas.  Although not privy to the internal machinations of operatives, the "pressure" on Trudeau must also include some former Rae fans.  In other words, there does seems some momentum away from Rae of late, a far cry from the love in feel of only a few months ago.  As an aside, I also don't think Rae was ever a "shoo-in" to win, even without Trudeau, there was a very large sense of the need for fresh blood, as well as baggage which will never evaporate.

Rae mentioned "social media" again today, which he has in the past many times.  The reference was made in the context of the glowing reviews he is receiving today, contrasted with the maelstrom we saw last week.  Readers of this blog know I'm not one to overstate the influence of social media, blogs, it is what it is and no one should delude themselves as to "reach" just quite yet.  That said, the negative reaction from rank and file Liberals, as well as some more prominent people, clearly had an influence on Rae.  Social media can play a role in a more narrow discussion amongst partisans in particular.  Rather than that visceral reaction on social media being a bad thing, in fact it allowed average supporters to express their view of decisions being made elsewhere.  The "push back" Rae received was very much grassroots in origin, agree or disagree, I see it as a net plus for egalitarianism that views can be expressed and then incorporated by elites.  The more input the better and if this injection gave Rae pause, I say it allowed for him to see the world outside the Ottawa bubble and glad handers.

I believe Rae very much intended to run, but I think he is politically shrewd enough to see that he had become a divisive figure within the leadership frame.  I do applaud Rae for having the capacity to see beyond simple aspiration, the bonus for him now he leaves the stage appearing the great statesman.   Rae realized his run wasn't "good for the party", and I'm sure this was a painful conclusion.  Bob Rae is very much good for the Liberal Party, and many like myself can separate concerns about pledges, disadvantages and the larger contributions he makes every day.  Liberals will be well served to have Rae minding the store while the leadership race distracts, in many respects he is the greatest of all Parliamentarians.

Rae's decision today is a sober realization that many Liberals have long term memories,  the mood within the party is looking forward and that former desires are perhaps no longer practically available.  I look forward to his performances in Ottawa and his commentary on important issues, as Rae remains a strong advocate for the just society many of us Liberals seek.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Thirds Of "Liberals" Support Merger

There is a sleeper issue within the coming Liberal leadership race that has yet to come forth, but will manifest, of that I have little doubt. The idea of a merger, co-operation, arrangement, an extension of the Nathan Cullen thrust, someone will champion. Why? Because the topic is fertile ground:
More interesting is whether any Liberal leadership hopeful campaigns on a ticket of supporting a merger of the left, "because clearly a majority of Liberal party supporters think it's a good idea," Bricker said. Sixty-four per cent of Liberal supporters and 57 per cent of NDP voters said they "strongly" or "somewhat" support their parties merging into a single party.

Here's the kicker, the Liberal race has the capacity to appeal beyond hardcore partisans, those LEAST likely to support an idea which challenges the narrow established tribalism.  Without the "supporter" component, talk of co-operation and mergers is dead on arrival.  But, with the potential of less invested participation, there is a built in capacity to find the spark required.  The conversation goes nowhere without the proper advocate, but the above finding demonstrates the audience is there for the right motivator.

I don't believe I've seen any finding wherein 2/3rds of remaining Liberal voters favour a merger.  Add to that a decent majority from the "riding high" NDP supporters and you have a compelling backdrop.  Again, diehards will resist, but these polls reach beyond party membership and into the realm of average voters, this audience isn't invested enough to share the flag affections.  As well, partisanship tends to cloud certain synergies that those less devoted can easily ascertain.  In other words, a certain detachment actually provides better perspective.

So, who is going to come out of the shadows and be the pro-merger, co-operation, arrangement candidate?  Make no mistake, it will be someone and I predict she/he will be a force.  The general public is well ahead of partisans on this score.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Now Or Never For Trudeau

Have you read all the potential names being floated to lead the Liberal Party?  Depressing isn't it?  With the exception of some grassroots manifestation yet to appear on the political radar, the list is pretty bland and predictable.  To my mind people that will never catch fire, never reset the new political paradigm, leadership that puts us on the sidelines, if not life support.  There is one exception, and that is of course Justin Trudeau.  Talk of "arm twisting", mention of not being ready, maybe one day, whatever, the bottom line, should Trudeau have any aspirations it's now or never because if this process isn't fruitful, I assure all this will be the LAST Liberal leader.

I'm not one to gush over Trudeau, fact is Liberals routinely embarrass themselves fawning all over the man, most of the "love" is nauseating in its superficiality.  Sorry, that's the truth.  However, let's keep it real, politics are superficial, so "rock star" isn't necessarily a negative for a party desperate to get off the road to oblivion.  The fact the NDP just rode into Official Opposition status with a bunch of MP's the electorate couldn't pick out in a police lineup, a testament to the fact politics are as deep as a bird bath.  If Trudeau can turn some otherwise disinterested heads, all the more power to him, perhaps the thick mane alone can win 20-30 new seats?

Where I can jump on the Trudeau bandwagon, is that he has the capacity to truly shake up a pretty static entity, as well as the larger malaise that plagues Canadian politics.   I also believe Trudeau is truly a progressive, a left, center left manifestation, which is where I prefer we stand. The fact Trudeau is considered "green", prone to speak off the cuff, not shy about controversy, plus, plus, plus in my mind, this country could use some spontaneity and feather ruffling.  As well, Trudeau seems to speak the language which resonates with younger voters, for a tired party that is nowhere with this demographic, that energy he brings is attractive.  Bold and somewhat brash, bring it on all day long, for the love of man inject some life into this comatose country.

Trudeau doesn't think this is his time, but really these are the potential Liberal end times, so future considerations fail to recognize the immediate imperative.  In reality, it is now or never, this realization Trudeau must digest.  If Trudeau loves the Liberal brand, if he believes in what it stands for and wants to put a stamp on it moving forward, this is it, the moment, right here, right now.

Jump in now Justin, while this rusty tug still floats, tomorrow may never come...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wither The Tribes?

Interesting article today, detailing developments in a lone riding which could become a template for greater "co-operation" moving forward.  I contend some measure of co-ordination is largely inevitable, as well as a belief the move will come from a grassroots expression, rather than the rigid party apparatus which is largely incapable of seeing beyond narrow self interest.

I'm not committed to a preferred course, but the spirit here is encouraging:
In February of this year, Green Party supporters in the riding, at their annual general meeting, agreed to have its executive reach out to Liberal and NDP representatives in the riding. “The purpose of the discussions has been to explore areas of agreement on visions for a progressive Canadian future, including electoral reform,” wrote Alec Adams, the Green riding association president. The three parties agreed it might be useful to express joint concern over government policy. “Our goal is to galvanize the progressive vote in 2015, so people will cast their votes in a way that will make a difference,” he wrote. The meetings have been “non-competitive and congenial,” Adams says, but he emphasized things are being done one small step at a time. Just to be safe, they are representing themselves to the public as concerned individuals, leaving their party affiliation at the door. Last Saturday, a protest against the omnibus bill was held in Orillia and it was jointly organized by all three opposition parties in the riding.
Partisans routinely defend the distinctive character of each political brand. In one sense this contention is true, except when taken to the practical world. The NDP are now lead by a man who's first political ads INTRODUCING him to Canadians take place in a corporate boardroom- yes a Bay Street setting- that's the new far left ladies and gentleman. The Liberals are lead by an interim leader who is quite possibly to the LEFT of the NDP leader, no need to rehash his orange past. The Liberals are working with the Greens, the Liberals have worked with the Greens going back to Dion, we have seen many, many committed Greens move into the Liberal tent and vice versa, the synergies are simply irrefutable. Provinces have elected many NDP governments, which dippers routinely cite, without mentioning Doer, Dexter, Calvert bear NO relationship to the "real left", in fact Dalton McGuinty may just be the real "progressive". But I digress...

There is a certain narrow mentality that dominates the tribes, one that I have also fell prey to in the name of "team". Actual political orientation takes a backseat to the flag, Ignatieff, Dion, far apart on the spectrum, but the commonality is the brand and that supersedes. Our NDP friends are doing the same right now, many have admitted a discomfort with Mulcair's orientation to me privately, but that evaporates in the name of path to power and the necessary pragmatism that comes with mainstream politics. If we blindfold ourselves and simply read rhetorical lines, in many respects partisans would be at a loss to ascertain true origin, and that is the bottom line.

 People talk about the Liberals being "squeezed", which to me is a simplistic explanation. In reality, Liberals are being squeezed because the NDP are becoming the Liberals, the very nature of the term implies a move into formerly held terrority. Mulcair is moving the NDP to the center, the party of Broadbent is deader than any column could articulate about the Liberals ultimate fate, don't kid yourself. The Greens scream politically redundant on a host of levels, apart from the party apparatus and internal dynamics that nobody outside of the partisan realm particularly cares about.

The Liberal leadership race is shaping up like a dud already, the names being floated resemble those of job applicants to captain the good ship Titantic. The only intrigue for me as of today, does SOMEONE come out of the hinterland and champion "co-operation", is there a revolutionary amongst us? Should we see that expression, THEN this notion of "supporter" can become a important variable because there is a mechanism to allow for non-partisan types to weigh in on the future of the closed tribe.  In other words, the appetite amongst the general audience sees more value in co-operation than do we committed party members, the lack of mental rigidity that scoffs at the mere mention.  As well, "locals" on the ground-as Simcoe North demonstrates- can unilaterally find common ground and these understandings can manifest.

I'm not sure where we go moving forward, but I remain convinced that should anything of political substance develop it will come from the ground, a practical sensibility that sees a greater interest beyond the tribes.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Mulcair The "Statesman"

Mulcair's rushed visit to the oilsands has served him well. While the polls remain firm- even downright extraordinary in a historic sense for the NDP- there is no doubt the quickly planned visit to Alberta was part a realization of particular problematic themes developing. We are in the midst of a complicated debate, how that discussion evolves will determine whether Mulcair's "gambit" as I've called is an electoral success or an albatross. If Mulcair can confine the debate to an economic discussion, intervowen into environmental realities, I actually see a supportive constituency. However, if we are reduced to bombast and insult, then Mulcair will look the divisive loose cannon, a practical threat to Canadian unity. Should this unity question be the dominant path, then this issue is a loser all day long for the NDP, of that I have little doubt.

I would categorize Mulcair's visit to the oilsands a complete success. I watched most of Mulcair's presser and came away thoroughly impressed by the tone, this is the pocket he must remain within for his arguments to pierce through the counter fear mongering:
Mr. Mulcair was more statesman than firebrand in his whirlwind tour of Edmonton and Fort McMurray...
And herein lies the gist of the issues swirling around. If Mulcair belittles Premier's with reckless rhetoric, raises the temperature, he will get lost in muck and never look Prime Minister in waiting. If Mulcair makes his points, patiently, in measured tones, intellectual concerns articulated reasonably, then he will resonate. I thought Mulcair looked quite firm and confident, while many may disagree with his position, he appears a man with the courage of his convictions, a trait which can serve him well.

People will note, that Mulcair has moved away from the "dutch disease" angle, not shying away, but the emphasis is more environmental sustainability, upholding existing federal laws and polluter pay. Of course, this isn't a change per se, Mulcair has spoke on this topics repeatedly. But, there is more nuance now in how this argument is presented, something that was sorely lacking a couple weeks ago when Mulcair was shooting from the hip like a political amateur. Reasonable people see the reason behind his concerns, juxtaposed with a government who is so one sided in its vision, Mulcair is probably closer to the majority.

I have to hand it to the NDP brain trust, they've handled this controversy quite well. Getting Mulcair out to Alberta in quick fashion, using more diplomatic language and a bit of message reframe have served him well moving forward. The tour isn't about winning over the oil sands lobby, the Conservatives base, it's about looking rational and principled to the moderate middle. In this regard, watching how Mulcair handled this visit, I'd say this tour was an unqualified success.